Transcom Commander: Sealift Fleet Urgently Needs Recapitalization

The need is urgent to recapitalize on U.S. Transportation Command’s sealift fleet, the Transcom commander said on Capitol Hill yesterday.

“[Our] sealift fleet is able to generate only 65 percent of our required capacity, and is rapidly approaching the end of [its] useful life,” Army Gen. Stephen R. Lyons, Transcom commander said.

He said 65 percent “is not a passing grade.”

The general testified on the state of the mobility enterprise at a joint hearing of the House Armed Services Committee’s panels on readiness and on sea power and projection forces.

We must never take our success for granted, as you know, and I would like to take this opportunity to point out my No. 1 concern for the joint deployment enterprise, and that is sealift readiness,” Lyons said.

The Transcom commander said he believes accelerating vessel purchases is probably the most practical way ahead — something that Congress has authorized over the last two years.

Protect and Sustain

“Every day, [the Transcom team] protects and sustains the force globally, our global-deployment networks, our transportation capacity in the air, over land and over the seas, and our global command and control capabilities combine to provide the United States with a strategic … advantage unmatched by any other nation around the world,” Lyons said.

The United States maintains the advantage with the help of its allies and partners, which are key to regional access and basing needed for DOD’s global reach, he noted.

“Around the globe at this moment, our Transcom aircraft [are] touching down every three minutes, Transcom ships are underway, trains are loading, aerial refuel missions are in orbit overhead and planes converted to intensive-care units are removing our nation’s ill and injured,” he told the congressmen.

“Our nation relies on Transcom to respond with immediate force on short notice and seamlessly transition to project a decisive force whenever needed,” Lyons said. “I am fully committed to retaining this strategic competitive advantage.”